From the Director, February 2017 - Making Sure Rural America Isn't Left Behind
Investment in infrastructure was a key element of both party platforms during the 2016 election, and it continues to be a top priority for the new Administration and Congress. At the request of Congressman Peter Welch, we surveyed our towns about their current public infrastructure investment priorities to inform his conversation with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on infrastructure policy that meets the needs of rural America. The turnaround time on the requested information was tight, but we still received reports from 12 of our 27 towns.
WRC Seeks Towns Interested in Comprehensive Energy Planning
On December 7th, 2016, the Windham Regional Commission presented on Act 174 and the details of the enhanced energy element for municipal plans. As part of Act 174, the Windham Regional Commission will be working with at least three towns in the region on enhancing their energy elements in the town plans to meet the standards of Act 174. Towns should submit their letters of interest by January 11th, 2017. The enhanced energy element work will be completed by the end of July, 2017.
Details for the letter of intent that towns need to submit to WRC, as well as other information on Act 174, including the Power Point presentation from the December 7 meeting, can be found on WRC’s Act 174 Energy Planning page.
WRC Welcomes Two New Staff Members
Windham Regional Commission recently hired two new staff members, Emily Davis and Erica Roper, to work in the areas of water quality, GIS, and transportation.
Vermont Better Road Grant Program - Opportunity to Help Towns be Proactive on Water Quality and Prepare for Municipal Roads General Permit in Development
Vermont Better Road Grant is a program for municipalities that provides funds for planning and erosion control projects that improve water quality and reduce maintenance costs. Applications are available NOW and due by 5pm Friday March 17, 2017. The Better Roads Grant program is beginning the 20th year of funding to support projects on municipal roads that improve water quality and result in cost saving maintenance. The grant funds are provided by the Vermont Agency of Transportation and are subject to availability.
WRC Staff Begin Road Erosion Inventories
In October, work began in Weston and Stratton to help towns come into compliance with Act 64, Vermont's Clean Water Act. WRC staff Jeff Nugent and Emily Davis identified road erosion locations that would impact water quality, and road segments that would not meet new road standards being developed under Act 64. The results will be used by towns to prioritize improvements to mitigate road erosion issues specifically relating to water quality. VTrans's Better Roads program provides funding for both inventory efforts and road and infrastructure improvements.
Hinsdale-Brattleboro Bridge Project
An important step is being taken towards the development of a new Hinsdale/Brattleboro bridge. The Hinsdale/Brattleboro Project Advisory Committee was held February 1st to review the project's status including its purpose, need, preferred alternative, programming schedule and cost. The Public Involvement Plan was also discussed.
The Hinsdale/Brattleboro Bridge Project (#12210C) calls for replacing the existing route 119 bridges crossing the Connecticut River between downtown Brattleboro, Vermont and Hinsdale, New Hampshire. This bridge replacement project aims to provide a safe, functionally efficient, and cost-effective Route 119 transportation corridor across the Connecticut River in the vicinity of downtown Brattleboro, VT and Hinsdale, NH, and to preserve the socio-economic and environmental resources associated with the transportation corridor.
RiverSmart Communities Report Available
The RiverSmart Communities program at UMass Amherst has released a report "Supporting New England Communities to Become RiverSmart: Policies and Programs That Can Help New England Towns Thrive Despite River Floods." The result of work with numerous partners in MA and VT, the report combines social and river science, institutional and policy research, and community outreach to research and address river floods in New England.
December 7th Meeting on Act 174 (Energy Planning) Power Point Available
On December 7th, 2016, the Windham Regional Commission presented on Act 174 and the details of the enhanced energy element for municipal plans. The Power Point presentation from that December 7 meeting, as well as links to background information on Act 174, can be found on WRC’s Act 174 Energy Planning page.
State’s Lidar Program Will Offer Highly Precise Elevation Data for Windham County
Much of Windham County is about to get the most detailed, accurate, and comprehensive elevation data the area has ever had. These new data, generated from lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, will give most towns in Windham County elevation data with an accuracy of 10 centimeters, and contours at 1-foot intervals.
The Vermont Municipal Flood Guide is Here!
The Windham Regional Commission, in partnership with Deerfield Watershed Creating Resilient Communities and the University of Massachusetts RiverSmart Communities, has put together a resource document entitled Municipal Guidance for Flood Emergencies in Vermont. This document is meant to assist all types of Vermont town officials, boards, staff, volunteers and others, with considerations and resources related to flooding disasters.
Sale of TransCanada Hydropower Facilities on the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers, updated 11/9/2016
When TransCanada announced its intent to sell its holdings in New England, including its holdings on the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers, we understood this was an important issue for 12 of our 27 towns where TransCanada owns property and has flowage rights: Brattleboro, Dummerston, Putney, Readsboro, Rockingham, Searsburg, Somerset, Stratton, Westminster, Whitingham, Wilmington and Vernon.
Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative Looks Forward to Future Projects
The Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative, comprised of members from groups, schools, town officials, and organizations within the watershed, along with the Windham Regional Commission, met at the beginning of September to update the team of project developments. The group has been funded by the High Meadows Fund to create and foster a watershed identity throughout the towns and communities along the river. The collaborative has worked on several flood resiliency projects including planting 1,360 trees, pursuing 6 conservation easements on river corridor properties, and setting up an educational center. Since the group last met, the educational center has found a home in the Retreat Farms in Brattleboro.
Evacuation Plan Template Now Available
At an LEPC-6 meeting, a request was made for assistance in evacuation planning for towns. Emergency Planner, Alyssa Sabetto, has developed an "Evacuation Plan template" for towns to customize for their unique circumstances. In putting this template together, Alyssa received information from several town officials, VT State Police, VT Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, VT Agency of Human Services, and VT Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS). This template is available by contacting Alyssa or visiting our Emergency Planning webpage. The template has been approved by Vermont DEMHS and will become a new appendix in the 2017 LEOP (it will not be a requirement).
WRC Approves Renewable Energy Grant Program- RFPs Released November 1st
The Windham Regional Commission is excited to announce that we have received funds from the Clean Energy Development Fund to develop a grant program for renewable energy generation projects within Windham County. The approved Windham County Renewable Energy Program based on your comments and feedback is below. The Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released November 1st. Please contact Marion Major at
or (802)257-4547 for a copy of the RFP.